Check out CNN's Great Big Story's video interview with Ellen Sirot, Tom Nikko, and myself!
I was recently interviewed by FAB beauty!
We discussed how I got started and what it is really like to be a professional hand model.
I don't know how I missed this but back in May I gave Your Nails Magazine some pro tips on hand care and thought I'd share some of them here!
So here is a little excerpt:
Cuticles are an integral part of overall nail health; they actually protect the nail bed, the part of your nail where new cells develop and result in nail growth. It is similar to taking care of your hair – you start at the roots! Cuticles are like the roots of your nails so healthy cuticles means healthy nails. I think people tend to get carried away when cutting cuticles. I have had a few nightmarish incidents like being cut too deeply and bleeding at a salon while getting a manicure. Having open wounds on your cuticles is a lot worse than a bit of dried skin and it makes them more susceptible to infection. To me it just seems like something that is better in my own control, so whenever I get a manicure, unless I really trust the manicurist, I prefer to avoid the cuticle cutters.
Another very important tip is, something I had to learn the hard way, ALWAYS use a base coat when painting your nails with anything highly pigmented. There is nothing worse than having to wait for stained and nasty looking nails to grow out. I like using Sally Hansen’s Double Duty Base Coat and Top Coat because it is two in one and doesn’t chip. I like to use it as a clear coat of polish or as the base and top coat to protect a colorful polish.
A more obvious but equally important thing to keep in mind is protecting your hands from the elements like the weather and water. Wearing gloves in the winter helps to keep hands from cracking and drying out. Sunscreen in the summer not only protects from sunburns but it also helps prevent sunspots. Wearing cleaning gloves when washing dishes helps keep your hand safe from dish soap and water, which can strip your skin of moisture and natural oils. I like to keep lotion next to my sink so I can quickly moisturize after washing my hands.
Read more in Your Nails Magazine!
I was recently asked where I like to go get manicures here in New York and thought that I'd share a few of my favorite spas/salons in the city.
If I'm in a rush or just need a quick and convenient polish before a shoot, I'll pop in pretty much anywhere but I just ask that they don't cut my cuticles. Cuticle oil and pushing back the cuticles will do the trick 99% of the time. I really only ever get my cuticles cut when I'm with a manicurist I completely trust and there is actually something to cut off - I find that people love to cut into cuticles that really don't need to be cut.
Anyways, as for my actual recommendations, here are a few of my favorite (and hand model approved!) nail salons:
For a basic manicure and an amazing spa pedicure - Polaris (20 E. 22nd St.)
Polaris is great for standard manicures; they are really careful and make sure your nails look perfect. They take their time and the end result is always consistently good. They have a solid assortment of colors to choose from and their polishes don't chip off right away. If you want to treat yourself to a great pedicure, I highly recommend their spa pedicure!
For a luxurious hand and foot treatment - Jin Soon (56 E. 4th St. and additional locations)
I have had the pleasure of working with Jin Soon on various hand shoots, not to mention for her own line of nail polishes, so it was fun for me to check out her salon. I have long been a fan of her polishes - from the packaging to the formula, it truly is great polish!
Her salon is equally nice. I love the milk and honey hand and foot treatment. Complimented with your choice of essential oil, the milk and honey treatment is ultra hydrating and relaxing. There is wide selection of designer polishes and Jin Soon's namesake polishes to choose from. As I said, I am a huge fan of Jin Soon's polish, I love the colors and that it last so long!
Pro tip: make sure you get the citrus tea, its so delicious!
For nail art - Paintbox (17 Crosby St.)
Paintbox is a curated nail art salon in SoHo that does exclusively manicures. I have also had the pleasure of working with the Paintbox team as a hand model so I have personally tried a variety of their nail art looks - I'm partial to anything with negative space but they offer seasonal looks so there is always something new to try! I really appreciate the quality products that they use like the Deborah Lippmann cuticle cream. The paintbox salon itself is just a lovely place to be in, they offer great coffee or prosecco to make your experience even better and the staff are some of the nicest people in New York! It's a great experience and the paintbox mani cam is the perfect way to take a "nailfie" after your manicure!
Being a hand model comes with a lot of questions - I've discussed a lot my FAQs in this blog but pretty much everyone who finds out that I hand model has a slew of questions about my job. Mostly, people are curious about how protective or obsessive hand models are about their hands. Over the past year I've written a few articles on the topic for various beauty publications and I just found some of my hand care tips translated into German by Elle Deutschland! For the English version, check out this blog post.
Save the Seinfeld jokes—hand model Susan Schell has heard them before (and yes, admittedly, some of them may have been from us). When Schell reached out to us offering to fill us in on what it's actually like to be a hand model for part of (she also happens to be a writer) her 9-5, our minds admittedly started to wander. To be frank, we've heard some unbelievable anecdotes regarding what it takes to be one—think wearing gloves full-time when you're not shooting. We quizzed Schell on the biggest misconceptions about her trade, her favorite product picks that keep her hands, nails and cuticles in photo-ready shape and the weirdest thing she's done in the name of nail maintenance.
Read more here!
Hand care might not be everyone’s most primary concern – but for me it has become a big part of my life. Working as a hand model here in NYC, I’m expected to have flawless hands and nails. Of course perfection is not always attainable, my nails break and my hands dry out just like everyone else.
I have however developed a routine for myself that keeps my hands more consistently prepared for photo shoots. I never know when I am going to be booked for a job so it is important for me to maintain healthy and pretty
Read the rest here!
Recently, I did a little hand model interview with Yahoo Beauty about how I got started hand modeling and my hand care routine. Check it out here!
We all remember the hyperbolic glass dome worn by David Duchovny’s “world’s greatest hand model” character in Zoolander. And while real-life professionals do indeed take great care of their hands and nails, the lengths they go to aren’t so extreme — and they’re actually easy to emulate at home. “I know of a few hand models who do wear gloves all the time, but I’m personally not that radical. I do try to be very careful, especially when cleaning my apartment,” says NYC-based hand model Susan Schell, whose portfolio includes a plethora of work for clients like Paintbox, Vogue.com, Refinery29, and Ladurée.
The 23-year-old says she had no knowledge of proper hand care when she first began modeling, but that she quickly gleaned a lot from other girls. The most important tip? “Not to cut my cuticles, [because] cutting them improperly can make the skin around your nails grow back thicker and more jagged.” Cuticles are like the root of the nail, she says, so like the roots of our hair, they are very important. “Biting or cutting cuticles improperly can also lead to infections. If you have a hangnail of course it’s OK to cut off, just make sure you aren’t digging into your skin.” But cuticle care isn’t the only key to getting model-status hands.
“I use moisturizers daily,” says Schell. “Nothing too fancy, just really hydrating stuff. I love Trader Joes’ Coconut Body Butter — it’s super cheap, smells great and works really well.” She is also a proponent of both cuticle creams and oils, using them all the time. “I think a healthy cuticle makes for a healthy nail,” says the model whose go-tos are Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Creme ($6) and Deborah Lippmann Cuticle Oil ($20).
Critical to keeping hands in picture-perfect shape is hydration, and also exfoliation (she uses Clarins One-Step Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser with Orange Extract ($35) on her sensitive skin), especially in the winter. Additionally, she swears by paraffin wax treatments. “You can get this done at certain spas or use an at-home paraffin bath and do it yourself. When your hands crack or peel due to dryness, it’s fun to dip your hands in the warm wax and it soothes sore cracks as well as leaves you feeling really moisturized,” she says.
Occasionally the night before a shoot she’ll “slather my hands in lotion or hand salve and wear cotton gloves to bed to give them some extra hydration.” Plus she wears SPF whenever she’s in the sun, to avoid sunburn and sunspots. As far as her nails go, between jobs — she’s worked with top manicurists including Madeline Poole and Jin Soon Choi — she pushes her cuticles back, files her nails and paints a clear, protective topcoat on herself.
On a job — as you should at home — Schell always asks for a base coat under pigmented colors, because she’s been stained before by bright red polish. The model’s parting advice? “Keep a bottle of lotion next to your sink—it will remind you to moisturize after washing your hands and help keep them from drying out.”
I often get asked all about how I got into hand modeling so I figured I would share my story with XOJane!
Check out the full article here: http://www.xojane.com/it-happened-to-me/how-to-become-a-hand-model
It is a weird job but I'm making it work!
I was recently given the opportunity to share some of my hand care routine and tricks with online beauty magazine Byrdie!
Check out the article on Byrdie.com here!
1 of 5: Ditch the Cuticle Cutters
My number one most important hand-care tip is to ditch the cuticle cutters and use a cuticle cream or oil. Cutting your cuticles can make them grow tougher and more jagged if not done properly. The cuticle is like the root of your nail—if you want healthy and long nails you need to start taking care of your cuticles. All you need to do is use cuticle oil or cream and gently push back your cuticles. I personally love to use Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Creme and Deborah Lippmann’s Cuticle Oil.
2 of 5: DIY Overnight (Hand) Mask
My next tip is a hand-model favorite for getting your hands extra moisturized: The night before a shoot I generously slather my hands in lotions, as well as the all-important cuticle oil, and then slip my gooey hands into cotton overnight gloves. This retains moisture all night and you wake up with incredibly soft hands. I like to mix it up with a Burt’s Bees Hand Salve or the Burt’s Bees Almond Milk Beeswax Hand Cream—they are both super-rich and pretty sticky so they work best with the glove technique.
3 of 5: Try Paraffin Wax
If your hands ever crack or get especially dry in the winter you might want to look into a paraffin wax treatment. My mom introduced me to this and I actually really like doing it: You dip your hands (or your feet) several times in melted warm paraffin wax, let the wax harden around your hands, and then slip on these towel-like mittens to keep in the warmth. After about 10-15 minutes, or when the wax has completely hardened and cooled, you just crack off the wax and your skin feels crazy soft and rehydrated.
4 of 5: Remove Glitter Polish
This is a trick I picked up from manicurists on set when they were removing a bright polish, a complicated nail art design, or even a glitter polish. If you soak cotton balls in nail polish remover and let them rest on your painted nails for a little while it will loosen the polish. Then when you squeeze the cotton balls down and pull them off the nail, the majority of the polish should come off. Sometimes rubbing off dark polishes can stain your skin or even push pigment under your cuticles so this is great solution.
5 of 5: Buff Away Stains
Now this tip might seem a bit obvious but I cannot stress this enough: ALWAYS use a base coat when painting your nails anything colorful. Unfortunately, this is something I learned the hard way. There is nothing more frustrating than waiting for weirdly stained and nasty looking nails to grow out. I like to use Sally Hansen’s Double Duty Base Coat and Top Coat because it is two-in-one and doesn’t chip. I also use this as a clear coat because it feels like it makes my nails a little stronger. If you do accidentally stain your nails, there are a few things you can do to minimize the damage. First, lightly buff the surface of your nails with a fine grit nail buff to help remove the stains—typically stains are only in the superficial layers of your nails so buffing them can make a big difference (just remember buffing can also make your nails thinner and weaker if do it too aggressively, so go easy!). After gently buffing, scrub your nails with a soft toothbrush using a mixture of peroxide, baking soda, and lemon juice, to help clean out any residual stains. A great way to “cheat” whiter edges on your nails is to use a whitening pencil—this is not permanent but it is a helpful quick fix.
Susan Schell is a working hand model in NYC.